HAVERHILL — It was a mix that had neighbors complaining and police hopping most of the weekend.

People had tolerated almost a week's worth of rain, flooding and cleanup. The sun finally came out and the temperature reached 70 degrees. People hit the sidewalks and streets outside their homes and turned up the music, and the partying began.

Police said the first weekend of spring turned into a party in the streets with loud music and, in one case, dancing girls — literally.

The problem was the festivities in inner city neighborhoods extended into the night, drawing complaints from neighbors and forcing police to break up the gatherings.

Police responded to 23 reports of loud music over the weekend. Most of the calls were in and around the heavily populated inner city, although residents near Haverhill Stadium on Lincoln Avenue and those on Forest Acres Drive in Bradford also were lodging complaints.

"In today's society, it is not unusual for neighbors not to know each other and to call police rather than ask them to turn the music down," said Deputy Chief Donald Thompson. "It could be, in some cases, they call police because they don't get along or they did not get satisfaction when they asked in the past to turn the music down."

In all, police responded to 184 incidents over the weekend, beginning with a report of loud music on Marble Street at 12:23 a.m. Saturday, the first day of spring. There were 22 other loud music complaints the rest of the weekend, a significant increase from other recent weekends when rain and cold kept people indoors.

"With the warm weather, and the fact that it was St. Patrick's Day weekend, explains it," City Councilor David Hall said about the many complaints of loud music.

Hall, who is head of the city's Public Safety Committee and a retired Haverhill police officer, said he responded to hundreds of reports of loud music during his 34 years on the force.

"It's all in a confined area where you have people who don't own their own homes and they have a different style of living," Hall said. "It's terrible and it's getting worse. And if police are going to be cut more, we're going to be in trouble in terms of police having to prioritize calls."

At 3:32 a.m. Saturday, police were called to 444 Washington St. It was the fifth of many loud music complaints they would receive throughout the weekend.

"Police were there for a report of people outside being loud and women dancing in the street," Thompson said. "The officers dispersed the group and asked them to go inside."

He said officers will typically issue a warning, but those who continue to annoy others with music will be charged with keeping a disorderly house or disturbing the peace, which can result in up to six months in jail and a $200 fine.

"The officers' first response is normally to have them shut off the music and take it into the house," Thompson said. "Other times, people don't like to cooperate and it can result in an arrest."

Reports of loud music usually begin around the first warm weekend of the year and continue throughout the summer, Thompson said.

Sometimes officers arrive to a musical welcome with speakers blaring from an open window. Other times it's the thumping beat of automobile subwoofers driven by amplifiers pushing out thousands of watts of nerve-racking power.

"We try to get to every call, but it can't be a priority call and comes after car accidents, breaks and bar fights," Thompson said of noise complaints.

At the same time that police responded to the dancing party on Washington Street, they were called to 25 New St. for another report of loud music.

"It was coming from a Jeep," Thompson said.

He said officers on the midnight shift often have their hands full on Friday and Saturday nights when the bars are closing and customers spill out onto the streets.

"Sometimes by the time we get there, the music is no longer being played," he said. "We do what we have to do to keep the peace. But remember, if we go to your house for loud music we're not going to return every week and ask you to turn it down. If we go there two or three times you can expect to go to court."


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